Saturday, July 19, 2008

Drive Thru Etiquette

"Yeah, hi. Give me two Chicken McNugget Happy Meals, one with a chocolate milk and the other with a white milk, please." I hate feeding my kids deep-fried crap as much as anyone, but sometimes in this world there is no other option. I waited for what seemed forever for a response. I was beginning to think that the girl working drive thru was either hearing impaired, or her headset had shorted out. Finally, she came with a crackled answer ...

"Sir? We don't have chocolate milk."

"You're out of it?" I don't know why I asked this, other than to make her rephrase her statement. Her tone, along with the wording she chose, made it sound as though she were calling me an idiot.

"No sir. I said, we don't have chocolate milk. You know? We don't sell it." (Smart mouthed little ... well, you know).

"That's funny, you've sold chocolate milk for several decades, right up through last Thursday. Did Ronald suddenly decide that was off the menu?" (Yup. She'd pissed me off. Didn't take much after the trying day that I'd had).

"Hold on." (Forgetting to turn off her microphone) "Hey, Melinda? There's some guy out here who is trying to tell me that we sell chocolate milk. He's being an asshole about it! (pause) No we don't! (another pause) Where? I've looked all over this stupid thing. (and another) Oh. Okay." (Obviously thinking she's turning her mic back on) "---------SILENCE---------"

(At least 60-seconds go by. A car behind me gives a quick warning beep of his gay little import horn. As I sneer into the side mirror, he quickly looks away as though it wasn't him. He was the only car back there).

"Hello? Just so you know, when you called me an asshole your mic was still on, so you probably turned it off, which is why I can't hear you."
"Um ... (another pause) ... will these be for a boy or a girl?"

Having one of each, I wasn't quite sure how to answer this. Did she think that one child was going to consume two Happy Meals? Was this common? I almost didn't doubt it. And why didn't she just ask if I'd like Transformers or Princesses? Why did it have to be a boy/girl thing? As it turns out, my daughter likes to play with the boy toys, so I wanted two Transformers Happy Meals. However, by answering two "boys", I'd certainly be giving my sweet daughter a complex. (Never mind the fact that my kids weren't even in the car with me ... it had been a long day and I was out to prove a point).

"Two Transformers Meals, please."

"So, two BOYS meals?"

Alright, now I was irritated. "No. Two Transformers Happy Meals. I'm not telling you if they are for boys or for girls. That is none of your business and not for you to label. A girl can play with Transformers, right? And, since you're getting snippety with me and you already have labeled me as an asshole, I'm going to take advantage of my newfound title and provide you with a little advice. Don't judge people by what they eat or by how they react to your dumb mistakes and don't stereotype your Happy Meals by gender when it's perfectly okay for a girl to get a Transformer meal or a boy to get a Princess meal for that matter, you understand?"

"Excuse me, sir? (Different voice). My name is Melinda and I'm the crew chief. I'm sorry that we had that confusion there. Could you please pull around to the window for your total?"

"Yes, Melinda. But you should tell the new girl there that her tone was quite rude ... 

My statement was cut short by a long, high-pitched, tin-horn blare from behind me.

"HOLD ON, YOU STUPID JERK!" I yelled. My face was red and I knew that if my kids had been in the car, I would have certainly set a horrible example for them. A little sewing machine motor revved behind me and I swung my door open, bending my six-foot-seven-inch frame out to its full height. The car quickly backed up and raced for an exit.

"Sir? Are you there?" Melinda sounded concerned.

I thought about what I'd just done. To this woman, who was only privy to the audio version of the past thirty-seconds, I was pretty sure that I sounded like a raving lunatic or a very unfortunate sufferer of Terrett's Syndrome. There was absolutely no way I was going to show my face at that window. Besides, I was pretty certain that somebody would have been spitting in something by that point. 

In a fraction of a second my mind decided that the best way to handle this situation was to flee. Flee, I did. I jammed the gear selector into drive and peeled away from the box, bumped over the curb and headed out the exit. In my mirror I could see a gathering of faces jumbled into the drive thru window protrusion like clowns staring out of a small car. 

I raced to the next town another five minutes down the Interstate and pulled to the McDonald's drive thru order box. I was going to be late and wasting very expensive gas, but such is the price for being an asshole at the drive thru. I was truly feeling pretty bad about myself. 


"Will those be for boys or girls," the new girl asked. The ill temper from the hard day flared with a slight redness to my ears as I replied ...

"Two boys, please." There. That wasn't so bad. Just suck it up and play the game and everything will work out fine. I actually felt a little better.

"Okay, sir? Which one gets the chocolate milk ... the first one or the second one?"

I shook my head in disgust and silently pulled forward. Since the meals were identical and they hand you the drinks totally separate from the meal boxes anyway, I guessed she'd just have to sweat out that tough decision. Maybe ... just maybe, it isn't me after all.

All the best,


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